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Militants threaten 'armed struggle' on rail link

'Revolutionary court' has issued death sentences, they say

19 February, 18:57
Militants threaten 'armed struggle' on rail link (By Denis Greenan).

(ANSA) - Turin, February 19 - A little-known militant group on Wednesday threatened "armed struggle" against those guarding a high-speed rail line between Italy and France in a chilling reminder of leftist and rightist terrorist campaigns that left scores dead in the 1970s and '80s.

The Nuclei Operativi Armati (Armed Operational Nuclei, NOA) said its "revolutionary court" had condemned to death" officials and police who were allegedly "repressing" protests against the work on the Treni Alta Velocità (TAV) line north of Turin.

The citizens' movement trying to stop the link disassociated itself from the NOA.

The 'No TAV' movement, which has clashed with police and been blamed for acts of sabotage, condemned the NOA and reiterated it was engaged in a programme of civil disobedience that refused "violence against persons".

It said the militants had "no right" to try to piggyback its protest against the line between Turin and Lyon.

"The No TAV movement has a special, popular, mass DNA, ready to openly practise civil disobedience without (giving) any space to violence," a statement from the group said.

"No one has any right to use the No TAV movement, and still less to try to replace the struggle the movement has decided and built up, collectively (and) openly," said the protesters, who have been demonstrating for years against the line, arguing that claims about its economic value are wrong and its impact on a pristine landscape will be devastating.

Italian Transport Minister Maurizio Lupi condemned what he called the "terrorist" threat, saying the NOA were besmirching the memory of northern Italian WWII Resistance fighters.

"The so-called NOA (Nuclei Armati Operativi) should stop dragging the memory of the partisans through the mud with their criminal ravings, and disfiguring words like freedom and liberation," Lupi said in a statement.

Lupi said the NOA's threat to carry out executions, like the partisans did against Nazis and collaborators, showed that the No TAV movement had now been backed by extremist militants. "Behind the opposition to the TAV a terrorist design is now manifesting itself, as Turin prosecutors have denounced for some time, which speaks without historical memory about 'proletarian and revolutionary consciences', 'revolutionary courts' and 'death sentences'," Lupi said.

The NOA letter, sent to ANSA's offices in Turin and Bologna as well as the news agency's Rome HQ, came a day after a Carabiniere police officer was indicted in connection with clashes in the Susa Valley in July 2011.

Prosecutors, who have opened a probe, said NOA was "already known to us".

No-TAV protests, which have sometimes turned violent, have built up steam in recent years and been taken up by leftist and anti-capitalist groups despite government efforts to persuade opponents that it is an essential piece of infrastructure, especially when Italy's economy has been suffering its longest postwar recession.

The Italian and French governments have insisted that the link will not only speed passenger and freight traffic but also boost both countries' economies.

On February 7 Turin prosecutors requested a nine-month jail term for anti-establishment 5-Star Movement (M5S) leader Beppe Grillo after he visited an illegally built large mountain hut in 2010 that became a centre-piece of the protests. Grillo, who heads Italy's second-biggest party, is also under investigation by prosecutors in several Italian cities for allegedly inciting soldiers to stop protecting politicians.

M5S MP Laura Castelli distanced herself and her movement from the NOA's threats.

"As a No TAV and a M5S MP I distance myself from these threatening letters," she said.

"These threats are part of the media intoxication whipped up before the European Parliament elections (in May)," she claimed, voicing the hope that police would find the culprits.